Working Together to Create a Solid & Safe Bike Program

March 3, 2012

After my last blog entry about our proposed bicycle policy, several bike users took the time to comment. I appreciate your feedback. We, at the CCJPA, know that these changes on the Capitol Corridor service may affect some riders accessing the trains with their bicycles.

Since my announcement and the subsequent feedback, the CCJPA Board of Directors at its February 15, 2012 meeting adopted some Principles that will help guide the development of the CCJPA Bicycle Access Policy (download link included below).   Using these Principles, the CCJPA team has been busy revising and updating some aspects and elements of bicycle access to and storage of bikes on Capitol Corridor trains.  Therefore, based on all of the helpful comments and observations, I would like to take the time to update everyone regarding some of the developments.

Solutions are a Collaborative Effort

The CCJPA views the solutions to the bicycle storage issue as a collaborative effort.  We will strive to be creative as our resources will allow (rail equipment, regulatory safety compliance and funding).  Just as importantly, we will need the help of our bicycle using riders as well.  It’s apparent to CCJPA, Amtrak staff and frequent riders that our soaring ridership and the corresponding growth in bike access in just a few years has presented us all a challenge.  The increased use of bicycles in conjunction with ridership growth has strained our capacity to safely accommodate so many bicycles. Safety, in this instance, is not a subjective concept; safety is the CCJPA’s top priority and it is regulated on intercity passenger trains by federal law.

In order to maintain compliance of federal safety standards, we conducted a survey of bicycle usage on the Capitol Corridor in January/February 2011 and established a Bicycle Policy Working Group comprised of CCJPA, Amtrak, Caltrans Division of Rail and three Capitol Corridor riders (two who use bicycles and one who uses wheelchair). The Bicycle Policy Working Group met several times and worked towards evaluating solutions to this dilemma.

In addition, those who learned of our impending policy change have suggested several steps we could take to better prepare our riders, our conductors, and the service overall.  The comments and suggestions from you to the CCJPA Board of Directors and staff have been thorough and very helpful.  We have examined these concepts and are postponing the official launch of the policy for several months in order to raise awareness among the riders and allow more time for conductor training in preparation for eventual implementation. This will also provide us more time to hopefully be closer to bringing more solutions to bear when implementation arrives.

Some Measures Will Take Time

Rest assured we are working in every creative way to permit travel with a bicycle on the train or stored at a station to be as safely feasible for all involved.  If we can’t implement a concept or an idea, it is because we don’t have the ability to modify existing cars, get more rail car equipment with mass bicycle storage on the train, or get secure bicycle parking solutions at stations ready in the immediate future. We do have plans to implement some improvements which will take time and resources that are not available now.  We truly appreciate your cooperation, patience and understanding and above all, the individual effort you can make with the conductors, with your own travel with a bicycle, and amongst other bicycle-carrying customers also using the train.

Soon you will find more details of all things related to bikes on our trains here:

http://www.capitolcorridor.org/on_board/bikes_on_board.php and http://www.capitolcorridor.org/on_board/bikes_background.php).

These web pages will be refreshed with bike-related news so Capitol Corridor customers to may stay apprised of all aspects of our Bikes on Board program. The first web page will discuss the policy itself and the second will describe the background and measures the CCJPA, Amtrak and Caltrans Rail Division have taken, are working on, as well as steps passengers may take to help.

Doing Our Part

Things we have done so far include:

· Introduced more bicycle storage on most Capitol Corridor trains by shifting around the car types shared between the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services.

· Received information that we have programmed funding (expected to arrive in late 2012 through late 2014) to add secure bicycle parking storage at stations.

· Begun an education period (1) for conductors to gain more consistency and attention to the parking and storage of bicycles on the train, and (2) for customers bringing their bicycles on the trains so that the conductors and travelling public know what to expect in terms of eventual policy application. In this time conductors will hang tags on bicycles (or luggage) that is not stored in a way that is compliant with the future policy.

Thank you once again for providing your comments.  We are committed to accommodating all users of Capitol Corridor trains.  During our upcoming  phase of the program, we will do our best to accommodate our riders who wish to bring their bikes on board, while adhering to federal safety standards.

CCJPA Board Principles for Bicycle Access Policy 02152012

New in 2012!

January 20, 2012

We were thrilled to unveil our free Wi-Fi service at the end of 2011, but we’re not done launching new, customer-focused projects. By spring 2012, we will join Caltrain in opening the new Santa Clara/University Station and show off the renovations at San Jose – Diridon Station. We will also partner with Amtrak on an e-Ticketing program (print-at-home ticketing) by March 2012.

CCJPA’s Bike Storage Educational Period Begins February 1

You may have heard or read public comments about the Capitol Corridor’s Joint Powers Authority’s (CCJPA) new on board bike storage policy. I want to clarify that on February 1, 2012 we will start our “get acquainted period” to help educate riders who bring bikes on board the importance of proper bike storage. We will begin implementing the new policy several months afterwards in order to give riders time to prepare and acclimate to proper bike storage practices that allow for adequate access and safety.

This policy change is an issue we have been wrestling with as a result of our growing ridership and the corresponding increase in bike usage over the past few years. Quite simply put, the increased use of bicycles in correlation with more riders has outpaced our capacity to safely accommodate so many bikes on board the trains. The CCJPA’s top priority is safety, and in this instance it is not just a viewpoint; it is mandated by compliance with basic operations regulated by federal law and enforced by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

During this educational period, for safety reasons and to acquaint bike riders with the upcoming policy, conductors may “tag” those bikes that aren’t properly secured or stowed in such a way that prevents accessing the aisle ways. We’re giving cyclists several months to learn about how to properly stow their bikes in accordance with the upcoming policy.

Upcoming Bike Policy

Several months from now, when the Capitol Corridor’s new bike policy is in place, passengers who board trains with bikes will be required to:

  • Secure bicycles to prevent the sudden or uncontrolled movement of bikes in the event of a sudden train stop; and
  • Store bicycles so that all passengers (including those in wheelchairs) can safely navigate the train aisle-ways.

Why the Change?

For the past four years we have seen bike ridership surge. More and more riders are bringing bikes on board; however, bicycle storage demand has outpaced our available space and compromised our ability to stay in compliance with FRA regulations. This means that we must implement solutions aimed to keep bikes secured on our trains, while allowing passengers (especially riders who use wheelchairs) to safely navigate through the train.

We’re looking at other solutions to increase bike storage, including working with Caltrans on possible car modifications; however, like buying new rail cars, train car modifications take time. In the meantime, we are obligated to address a very important issue: with more people on the trains, there is an increased demand for bike storage.

We urge bike riders to help us make our trains safe for all passengers. Conductors are our partners in this goal and will soon be trained to manage bike storage on the trains, refer passengers to our website for an explanation of the new bike policy and help identify safe bike storage solutions. On this page you’ll learn details of the reasons for the policy, what we’ve done to address the issue and ways you can help. For example, you may want to consider switching to a folding bike, an option that many transit systems encourage as folding bikes use less storage space.

Again, our goal is to make travel on the Capitol Corridor a safe, positive experience for all.